The Nigerian state could be guilty of war crimes, reveals an investigation by world renowned reporter, producer and documentary film-maker, Evan Williams.
This week’s Special Assignment exposes the desperate war that Nigeria seems to be waging on its citizens, in its frantic search for Boko Haram. The kidnap of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by hard line Islamists shocked the world – and focused new attention on the terrorist group Boko Haram.
In this week’s episode we reveal the other side of Nigeria’s war on terror. The programme examines dozens of videos and eyewitness testimonies that show how innocent civilians are being tortured, imprisoned and even murdered allegedly by the Nigerian army and its civilian militia. Together, they amount to powerful evidence proving that elements of the Nigerian state could be guilty of war crimes. Human rights investigators say as many 4,000 people have died in military custody since the conflict escalated two years ago. The programme includes video of: the bodies of dozens of young men whom witnesses say were executed in cold blood by Nigerian soldiers, men who have reportedly died in military custody, evidence of at least eleven young men being executed by uniformed Nigerian soldiers without any evidence of due process to determine whether they were Boko Haram members.
An international law expert says these appear to be summary executions, which are illegal in Nigeria and could constitute war crimes under international law. In one of the most shocking clips, a group of men described by witnesses as Nigerian soldiers and militiamen cut the throats of several young men in what appears to be revenge for the beheading of soldiers by Boko Haram and video footage – verified by a forensic pathologist – of a boy beaten unconscious by Nigerian soldiers for refusing to admit he was a member of Boko Haram. A militia member who was present at the time, says the boy died two days later. “I think you could not bear it there for a week. We all turned into monsters as you can see.” He said. An expert on the Nigerian military has confirmed that the uniforms are Nigerian armed forces.
Mark Ellis, an international human rights lawyer says that the videos suggest that these abuses are not isolated adding that because of the apparent presence of the military in some videos, those in charge should be doing something to prevent these violent acts.
In response, the Nigerian High Commissioner in London dismissed these reports as “disinformation”. Amnesty International and other concerned human rights activists have called on the international community to condemn these reported abuses but it seems according to some, sometimes, in a war against the so-called terrorists, the end justifies the means.
Watch “NIGERIA’S HIDDEN WAR” produced by Evan Williams. It will be broadcast on Special Assignment – Sunday on SABC 3 at 20:00PM.